head start: meaning and explanation

The meaning of the expression head start is an advantage you have over someone else. This could be in a competition (e.g. a race), or more generally (e.g. in life).

When you decide that someone should be given an advantage (usually to make a situation fairer), we can say that you should give them a head start. If the advantage already exists, you can say that someone has a head start.

We can use the prepositions over/against/on if you want to include the people or things that someone has an advantage over, e.g. My language skills gave me a bit of a head start over my colleagues.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: Ireland

up bilingual can a life.
children up to bilingual can give a head in life.

…Bringing children up to be bilingual...

Do you remember the meaning of the phrasal verb to bring someone up?

Discussion questions

Write your answer to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • In your country, what kind of things might give someone a head start in life?
  • Were you given a head start in life, or are you trying to give your children a head start in life?

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